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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book V Chapter 4: Sacrifice of Aeneas
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So saying, he twined a wreath |
of his own mother's [Note 1] myrtle tree, to shade
his sacred brow; the hero Helymus,
and king Acestes for his tresses gray,
like coronals took on; Ascanius
and all the warrior youth like emblems wore.
Then in th' attendant throng conspicuous,
with thousands at his side, the hero moved
from place of council to his father's tomb.
There on the ground he poured libation due,
two beakers of good wine, of sweet milk two,
two of the victim's blood -- and scattered flowers
of saddest purple stain, while thus he prayed:
Hail, hallowed sire! And hail, ye ashes dear
of him I vainly saved! O soul and shade
of my blest father! Heaven to us denied
to find together that predestined land
of Italy, or our Ausonian stream
of Tiber -- ah! but where? He scarce had said,
when from the central shrine a gliding snake,
coiled seven-fold in seven spirals wide,
twined round the tomb and trailed innocuous o'er
the very altars; his smooth back was flecked
with green and azure, and his changeful scales
gleamed golden, as the cloud-born rainbow flings
its thousand colors from th' opposing sun.
Aeneas breathless watched the serpent wind
among the bowls and cups of polished rim,
tasting the sacred feast; where, having fed,
back to the tomb all harmless it withdrew.
Then with new zeal his sacrifice he brings
in honor of his sire; for he must deem
that serpent the kind genius of the place,
or of his very father's present shade
some creature ministrant. Two lambs he slew,
the wonted way, two swine, and, sable-hued,
the yoke of bulls; from shallow bowl he poured
libation of the grape, and called aloud
on great Anchises' spirit, and his shade,
from Acheron set free. Then all the throng,
each from his separate store, heap up the shrines
with victims slain; some range in order fair
the brazen cauldrons; or along the grass,
scattered at ease, hold o'er the embers bright
the spitted flesh and roast it in the flames.
Note 1: mother = Venus
Sic fatus uelat materna tempora myrto.
hoc Helymus facit, hoc aeui maturus Acestes,
hoc puer Ascanius, sequitur quos cetera pubes.
ille e concilio multis cum milibus ibat
ad tumulum magna medius comitante caterua.
hic duo rite mero libans carchesia Baccho
fundit humi, duo lacte nouo, duo sanguine sacro,
purpureosque iacit flores ac talia fatur:
'salue, sancte parens, iterum; saluete, recepti
nequiquam cineres animaeque umbraeque paternae.
non licuit finis Italos fataliaque arua
nec tecum Ausonium, quicumque est, quaerere Thybrim.'
dixerat haec, adytis cum lubricus anguis ab imis
septem ingens gyros, septena uolumina traxit
amplexus placide tumulum lapsusque per aras,
caeruleae cui terga notae maculosus et auro
squamam incendebat fulgor, ceu nubibus arcus
mille iacit uarios aduerso sole colores.
obstipuit uisu Aeneas. ille agmine longo
tandem inter pateras et leuia pocula serpens
libauitque dapes rursusque innoxius imo
successit tumulo et depasta altaria liquit.
hoc magis inceptos genitori instaurat honores,
incertus geniumne loci famulumne parentis
esse putet; caedit binas de more bidentis
totque sues, totidem nigrantis terga iuuencos,
uinaque fundebat pateris animamque uocabat
Anchisae magni manisque Acheronte remissos.
nec non et socii, quae cuique est copia, laeti
dona ferunt, onerant aras mactantque iuuencos;
ordine aena locant alii fusique per herbam
subiciunt ueribus prunas et uiscera torrent.